With Nigeria being Africa’s most populous nation, health experts say it holds to key to the battle against HIV/AIDS. They say the way Nigeria goes, so goes the continent.
To learn more about Nigeria’s prevention and treatment efforts, Dr. Vincent Idemyor recently visited his homeland. He is the director of pharmaceutical services at Advocate-Bethany Hospital in Chicago and a faculty member at the University of Illinois Medical School. Dr. Idemyor spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the HIV/AIDS situation in Nigeria.
He says the prevalence of HIV infection in Nigeria “is still around 5.8 percent for those between ages 15 and 49.” He says he met with the chair of Nigeria’s action committee on AIDS and “was quite impressed with the things he’s done so far.”
However, Dr. Idemyor says Nigeria needs what he calls a multi-sector approach with education at its base. He says leaving the entire responsibility to one agency would be overwhelming. That’s why he recommends the approach used by Uganda since 1986, the ABC method. A stands for abstinence, B for be faithful, and C for condoms.
Dr. Idemyor wrote an article for the March 2003 edition of Pharmacotherapy, which looks at the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the next decade. He says recent findings from the VAXGEN vaccine tests proved disappointing and no effective microbicides are yet available. He says microbicides would be used as part of safe sex campaigns because they would be used in a similar fashion to spermicides.
He says, “We must find ways to expand and expedite proven prevention strategies and provide access to HIV-1 treatment for infected individuals. Without doing so, the worst of the global pandemic will occur in the next decade.”
Click the above links to download or listen to De Capua interview.